iQoo Z9 Review


iQoo launched the Neo 9 Pro in February, followed by the more affordable iQoo Z9 last month. The latter offers some of the best mid-range specifications in the segment. We’ve spent some time testing the iQoo Z9’s day-to-day performance, camera quality, and battery endurance. This handset competes with other smartphones around the Rs. 20,000 mark in India, such as the Realme 12+ 5G and Moto G84 5G, as well as the more expensive Honor X9b and Nothing Phone 2a.

iQoo Z9 price in India

The price of the iQoo Z9 in India is set at Rs. 19,999 for the base model, which has 8GB of RAM and 128GB of built-in storage. The company also offers the handset in a 256GB storage variant — this is the model I’ve reviewed — that costs Rs. 21,999.

The phone is available in Brushed Green and Graphene Blue in India. Like the company’s other smartphones, the iQoo Z9 comes with a transparent TPU case, a SIM ejector tool, a 44W charging brick, and a USB Type-A to USB Type-C cable.

iQoo Z9 Review: Design

We received the Brushed Green colour variant of the iQoo Z9 for review. The handset has an interesting design with paintbrush-like strokes flowing from the rear camera module towards the bottom of the panel. There’s a small iQoo logo located on the lower half, and there’s no other visible branding.

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iQoo Z9 in the Brushed Green colourway

 

Aside from the new pattern, the rear panel on the handset bears a striking resemblance to the iQoo Z7 Pro that was launched in India in August 2023, including the vertically aligned rear cameras located in a square-shaped camera island with rounded edges and a shiny metallic finish, which is a fingerprint magnet. The volume buttons are located on the right edge, above the power button.

Despite the 5,000mAh battery inside, the phone doesn’t feel too heavy in day-to-day use. It has flat edges, which make it easy to hold. While it’s not exactly slippery, it’s probably better to use it with the TPU case that ships with the phone. The iQoo Z9 has slim bezels, except near the chin. It has an IP54 rating for dust and water resistance.

iQoo Z9 Review: Specifications and software

The iQoo Z9 runs on an octa-core 4nm Dimensity 7200 SoC that comprises two Arm Cortex-A715 cores clocked at 2.8GHz and six Cortex-A510 cores. This midrange MediaTek chipset is paired with 8GB of LPDDR4X RAM, and you can enable an “Extended RAM” feature that utilises up to 8GB of unused storage to bring the available storage up to 16 GB.

This smartphone supports 5G, 4G LTE, Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.3, and GPS connectivity, along with a USB Type-C port. However, it does not have NFC connectivity, which means you can’t use the tap-to-pay features available on apps like Google Pay and PhonePe. The responsive in-display fingerprint scanner takes less than a second to unlock the phone.

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The iQoo Z9 sports a 6.67-inch AMOLED screen that is bright enough for outdoor use

 

Thankfully, the iQoo Z9 runs on Android 14 out-of-the-box, along with Funtouch OS 14. Like the company’s other smartphones we recently reviewed — the iQoo 12 and Neo 9 Pro —the operating system comes with the V-Appstore that will go out of its way to notify you about new apps to install. However, unlike those phones, you can’t disable the V-Appstore on this handset. The Home Screen also includes Hot Apps and Hot Games that prompt you to install new applications and games.

According to the company, the handset will get two OS updates and three years of security updates, which is par for the course at this price segment, with one exception — the Samsung Galaxy A15 is promised four OS upgrades and five years of security updates. The iQoo Z9 packs a 5,000mAh battery and can be charged at 44W via the included adapter.

iQoo Z9 Review: Performance

With the Dimensity 7200 chipset under the hood, the iQoo Z9 should theoretically offer the best performance for a midrange smartphone priced under Rs. 20,000. In day-to-day usage, the phone is zippy and lets you switch between apps without reloading them. It also features a dedicated game mode found on the company’s other phones that optimises performance while you’re gaming.

Games like Asphalt 9 run very smoothly on the iQoo Z9, while titles like Battlegrounds Mobile India can be played on the High setting with the Smooth preset without any throttling after about 45 minutes of gaming. I was able to run Genshin Impact on the iQoo Z9, but it was only somewhat smooth — even after selecting the lowest graphics setting in the game.

We also ran a few performance benchmarks on the iQoo Z9 and found that it scored considerably higher than other smartphones in this price segment. On AnTuTu 10, the phone scored 687,545 points, while its single-core and multi-core scores on Geekbench were 1,151 and 2,669, respectively. In the PCMark Work 3.0 benchmark, the iQoo Z9 scored 13,319 points.

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iQoo Z9 performance benchmarks

 

The iQoo Z9 scored 6,654 points in the Sling Shot and 5,766 in the Sling Shot Extreme tests on 3DMark. It managed to get 4,126 points and 4,205 points in the Wild Life and Wild Life Unlimited benchmark tests, respectively. Meanwhile, iQoo’s mid-range phone scored 6,058 points (108fps) on the GFXBench T-Rex test, while the Manhattan 3.1 benchmark resulted in a score of 3702 points (60fps), and the Car Chase test returned a lower score of 1,954 points (33fps).

The handset sports a 6.67-inch full-HD+ (1,080×2,400 pixels) AMOLED display with 120Hz refresh rate with 394ppi pixel density and a peak brightness of 1800 nits. I faced some visibility issues in very bright lighting conditions, especially when using the phone outdoors in the afternoon. There are three display colour profiles to choose from — standard, professional, and bright. While this is a subjective choice, I preferred using the standard mode (default)

The 5,000mAh battery on the iQoo Z9 allows you to go for several hours before you need to recharge the phone again. In our HD battery loop test, the handset lasted for about 23 hours and 14 minutes. With a mix of gaming, capturing a handful of photos and video, and about an hour of gaming, I had between 23 percent to 29 percent of battery left at the end of the day. After draining the battery, the phone took about 32 minutes to go to 50 percent and about 55 minutes for a full charge.

iQoo Z9 Review: Cameras

The iQoo Z9 is equipped with a 50-megapixel primary camera, a Sony IMX882 sensor with an f/1.8 aperture, and an unspecified 2-megapixel depth sensor with an f/2.4 aperture. The phone has a 16-megapixel front-facing camera with an f/2.0 aperture for selfies and video chats.

Images captured with the primary camera are sharp, and colours are displayed accurately when you’re shooting with the default zoom (1x). The camera interface lets you quickly switch to 2x, which seems to be an in-sensor crop that also delivers images with ample detail. This camera works well for human subjects, plants, and pets. You can also click good portrait images if there’s enough natural light.

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The iQoo Z9 captures detailed images when there’s enough natural light

 

There’s only one usable rear camera on the iQoo Z9, which performs reliably during the day. However, if you’re looking to capture images in low-light conditions, you’re better off using the built-in night mode. If your subject isn’t moving, the night mode can deliver far better shots than the default mode, reducing the amount of noise and artefacts without too much softening.

As there’s no ultra-wide-angle camera, I found myself stepping backwards to click images of large subjects that were close to me, such as buildings. This is not a problem in most scenarios but can make clicking some photos tricky. Unlike similar phones in this price segment, the iQoo Z9 is not equipped with a macro camera for close-up shots.

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The built-in night mode does a good job in low-light scenarios

 

The primary camera also includes a 50-megapixel mode that takes images rather quickly while delivering images with a higher resolution than the standard mode. This mode is best used on subjects that are nearby and results in images that have more detail and a slightly larger file size.

Selfies taken on the iQoo Z9 are clear and look good when there’s enough lighting, which means that you should be fine if you click images of yourself during the day. In low-light conditions, selfies captured by the handset contain some noise, and images aren’t as sharp as the phone tends to smoothen these images.

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The 50-megapixel mode offers slightly better detail for subjects that are nearby

 

The iQoo Z9’s video performance is on par with other smartphones in this price segment. You can record 1080p videos at 60fps and 30fps, while 4K videos can be recorded at 30fps. It’s worth noting that the 1080p/60fps mode offers better video stabilisation compared to the 4K option, which was a worthy trade-off, in my opinion.

iQoo Z9 Review: Verdict

If you’re looking for an affordable mid-range smartphone with good performance and decent photo quality, the iQoo Z9 is a good option to consider at this price point. It offers reliable battery life and has a bright AMOLED screen, while the processor definitely punches above its weight and makes up for the less-than-ideal UFS 2.2 storage.

However, the handset faces tough competition from smartphones like last year’s Samsung Galaxy M34 — while this handset’s Exynos 1280 processor is slower than the one on the iQoo Z9, it boasts better camera quality and a (subjectively) better software experience, with a longer software support window. Similarly, the Realme 12+ 5G has an additional ultra-wide-angle camera and supports faster charging at 67W.

There’s also the Poco X6 5G, which offers decent primary camera performance and packs a 5,100mAh battery, even though it comes with Android 13 out of the box in 2024. If your budget is a little higher, you can also consider the Nothing Phone 2a, which features a good primary camera and clean software. However, it doesn’t come with a charging brick inside the box, an issue you won’t face with the iQoo Z9.


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